I would tell you that I loved you,
If I thought that you would stay.
But I know that it’s no use and,
You’ve already gone away.
This old song by The Cure keeps playing over and over in my mind. It’s a song I fell in love with age 15, whilst experiencing my first proper heartbreak. I think the theme of people already having left, even as they are leaving, is key for me. Knowing someone has gone away before they have left, maybe before they even know they are going to leave, is something I really resonate with. I guess hyper-vigilance, but also that dreadful, painful stage of knowing you are losing someone and yet knowing at the same time that you are powerless to change their mind and make things different. And I know all this somehow resonates with how I experienced my Mum – she was always there, smothering and engulfing me, and yet never really there. She had already left me. Always. She was unable to connect with me. I may resurrect my posts on engulfment and narcissism, and depersonalisation, touch and promsicuity next week, as I think my blogging from now will be more these kind of tying- things-together type posts. And I hope there will be a lot of reflecting on progress and growth in the coming weeks, as my journey with K comes to an end. I’ve also made some progress with understanding my struggles with self- care at times lately too, including something very big around my fear of going to bed. It is the realisations and awareness that help me, all of us I suspect, to treat my struggles with more compassion, and ultimately to make the changes I need, by loving myself into doing something, rather than yelling at myself for things and cursing the existence of the young parts who make everything so hard.
I saw my Mum for the last time a year ago yesterday. A brief, angry, frightening and guilt-inducing encounter on my doorstep as she arrived unannounced and flung a bag of new clothes for Nina at me, telling me “I know you don’t want to see me” and walking off, her eyes red-rimmed and puffy, her wanting me to see this but wanting to seem as though she didn’t. Us daughters of NMs know their manipulative games, it was the diet we grew up on. We saw her properly the Saturday before this for our monthly time with her, a day out to a place we’ve all always loved. It was AWFUL, so awful. Nina was crying and upset about it for days afterwards because of what my Mum said to her when I popped to the toilet about missing her and how ‘Mummy has broken my heart’ (we went from seeing A LOT of her – she took Nina on holidays and had her for weekends – to seeing her once a month together in May 2015, shortly after I had suddenly had a lot of memories of childhood come back and realised she was abusing Nina too). I ended up in so much physical pain and so dissociated that week that I couldn’t work for 4 days after we saw her. Nina expressed concerns that if we stopped seeing my Mum she would kill herself. She was 10 at the time and I was horrified at this – I grew up with my Mum’s suicide threats hanging over me and I was not letting Nina grow up under this level of control and manipulation too. It was that week, a year ago, that the idea of going completely no contact with my Mum was first discussed in therapy. And over the next 2 months we worked through a lot of worries and questions in therapy, and in September I wrote to my Mum to cut contact between her and I, and between Nina and her while Nina is still a child.
So a year since I saw her. To be honest I’ve felt very little about this recently. I know, without a doubt now, that this is the best way forward for me. The relief it has brought has been tremendous. No texts. No unexpected visits bringing bags of unwanted things for Nina and I (this was her currency). No ramping up the pressure and guilt around Christmas and birthdays, no requests and subtle pressure to do things and go places and spend more time together. No being with her and having her say awful things I felt too frightened to challenge. No gradual erosion of my boundaries around monthly contact. And not having to see her and feel her pain, her emptiness, her despair – this is huge for me, as her pain has filled me my whole life. I am less afraid. It has not been a panacea, I always knew it wouldn’t be, and sometimes there are doubts over whether I did the right thing,, but I know it was the only way forward for Nina and I. Seeing her was intolerable, it was consuming my life even though it was just once a month. Her texts would floor me. Time with her was awful. I got nothing good from being with her – I remember K pointing out that in the nearly 2 years since she’d known me I’d never had an interaction with her that left me with anything positive, anything that would make the rest of it worthwhile.
I know somewhere there are feelings about not having a Mum, and about not having my actual Mum in my life. Every so often they have bubbled up, but I know there is a tidal wave inside waiting to come out when it is safe. I know that K leaving is triggering this core wound and that is why it hurts so much. For a long time I think I hoped that having K in my life for all the parts would protect us from having to feel the pain of not having a Mum. I realised in February that she couldn’t, that she could never be enough. And then I hoped that having her next to me as I grieved and felt it all would make it hurt less. And maybe it would have done, but now she is leaving she cannot hold me in it and contain it for me, what it is triggering in me is too huge. I am not strong enough to feel the two together, the real loss of someone so significant in my life, and all she triggers in me by leaving. She cannot help me with this, even if she tried. Is this why she is already gone? She has taken steps away from me, maybe consciously to protect us both, maybe subconsciously, or maybe it is just my subjective experience and she is the same. Maybe all three.
And maybe it doesn’t matter – I need to let her go. I need to accept that I cannot do anymore work with her. She is gone. We are still us in session, but I cannot work through this with her because it is too big. And so I need to move to someone else to process the loss of K with, and ultimately this will mean processing not having a Mum with someone else too. So there is grief around this as well, that someone else will see those enormous depths within me and not K, but there is no other way. I realised earlier in the week that there is no way of making this ending hurt less, it is not possible however long I stay, and what is important is choosing the way forward which helps me regain and maintain functionality. Perhaps if I had processed more of my core attachment wound with K I could work through this ending with her and reap the benefits of doing this, but the wound is too raw and open for that to be possible. I cannot put into words the pain of knowing she is already gone, that whether we do another 3 or 6 or 16 sessions I will never have her back again the way we were before, that we have moved to a place we cannot get back from. The pain is roaring and wild and uncontained and bigger than anything I have ever consciously known.
And it needs to go somewhere else and not to her, which involves being grown up and accepting she is gone so that we can at least have an ending and not an imploding mess of parts and pain. There is so much anger and confusion and hurt going on at the moment and I don’t think it is actually possible to process it with her. It feels like maybe I need to step away and, like with ending any relationship, accept that there will always be things I feel misunderstood about, things that she’s said that confuse me, things that feel messy and uncomfortable, but that one day these things won’t matter. One day it will become about the whole again, about all we have been and done together, and not these messy loose ends that I’m beginning to see won’t be tied up. Maybe in the weeks and months after we end I will come to a place of acceptance over the small messy things that have arisen during our time together, and will be able to write and create things to reflect the beauty we created together. I wanted to do this with her, to explore the beauty and light we’ve made together with her, but I don’t think this is going to happen now. The immediate hurt is too big to sit in together and I don’t want to destroy us in the process. I don’t want a bad or messy ending with her, and I think that means accepting that this ending is not how either of us imagined or wanted it to be.
I wish I had spent every minute with her soaking her up, taking in her words, letting her presence soothe me, letting her warmth fill me up. Instead I spent so much time terrified she would go away that I could never really feel she was there. And now I want to spend our remaining time together basking in her warmth, taking in all we are and have been, but she is gone and I am cold. Walking away from her before I absolutely have to, knowing she is still working and I could be eeking out my remaining hours and minutes with her till December, may just be the hardest decision I’ve ever come to. And all I can do is accept she has already gone and let her go.